ENCOURAGING subdivisions, removing red tape and amending planning guidelines to incentivise housing construction have been suggested by a Mornington Peninsula charity to ease the housing and homelessness crisis.
Peninsula Voice, which describes itself as a social platform for community learning, has compiled a comprehensive report on homelessness to raise awareness and foster an “all community” approach to solving the problem.
A social movement with no political or religious affiliations, the charity is distributing the document to politicians, charities and housing groups while calling for “urgent” action.
Convenor Peter Orton said that while there was a lot of good work being done in the homelessness and housing affordability space, the Peninsula Voice document zeroed in on six key areas, put all relevant data together, and offered solutions.
“The problem of housing affordability is not getting better, despite many organisations working on it, so we felt there was a need to bring the data together to highlight things that would actually make a difference,” he said.
“We want to see change, so we thought ‘let’s do something’, and spent two years researching it to come up with real solutions.”
Orton said the document revealed the keys to making a difference were education, health planning, land use, capital expenditure, rental and home share, and advocacy.
“We believe supporting the community to understand the issue of homelessness based on evidence, not misinformation, is an important first step to change the narrative and stigma surrounding this issue,” he said.
Peninsula Voice also believed the wider community could be involved in the conversation and that “innovation” could lead to practical and sustainable change as well as broader policy and funding decisions.
“This is going to require collective activism, we have businesses who can’t find workers because of lack of housing, we have 250 public houses on the peninsula that are not being used because they need some kind of repair, we have countless committees but not much happening,” Orton said.
“There are things in this document we can do ourselves today. We need action, we need everybody working together.”
Orton said it had identified successful approaches elsewhere and the “incredible work” being done locally by charities, churches, volunteers and the three community support centres.
“This document is a summary of those conversations and the three events held by Peninsula Voice over 2022 and 2023,” he said.
Orton said implementing a health and wellbeing model to the existing homelessness issue was critical, particularly for those experiencing homelessness and those supporting them in the community.
“It’s hard to think about anything else when you’re hungry, and don’t have a bed for the night, and these are constant challenges for those facing homelessness,” he said.
To increase housing supply, Orton says international and national strategies showed how public housing can be incorporated into existing communities and how historical and large-grouped public housing can perpetuate disadvantage.
Particularly relevant for the peninsula, a tourist destination with a high percentage of short-stay accommodation, the documents suggests that governments look harder at rental assistance caps and short-term rental regulations, as well as expediting approvals for second dwellings by removing red tape and encouraging subdivisions.
Some of the other ideas put forward in the document include encouraging room sharing, and the establishment of a specific housing advocacy group to produce long and short-term goals and implement a number of housing options by December 2024.
Orton says the housing crisis is affecting the very “fabric” of the peninsula’s community, and there is a need to bring philanthropic and “funding agencies” together to inject money into crisis and social housing.
“There are at least 1000 people homeless on the peninsula every night, with more and more women with children sleeping in cars – we have to do something,” he said.
“We urge our community to work together to do all we can and to challenge those in positions of power to prioritise funding for homelessness on the Mornington Peninsula.”
More information at peninsulavoice.org.au